Reaching toward all points of the compass in search of adventure
Month: <span>April 2018</span>
Month: April 2018

Andiamo in Italia!

Wow, what a whirlwind the last four days have been! I can’t believe that it has ONLY been four days!! Italy is amazing. I am in love. It’s a good thing I left Calvin at home or else I might never come back. This is an incredible country and I’ve only seen a little bit of it.

I’ll do individual posts for the things my mom and I have been up to in a few days (it’s after 2am and I really want to get some shut eye), but here’s a quick overview:

We had the most challenging travel day ever – a trans-Atlantic flight, a tube train, a regional train, a commuter train, finished off with about a mile of walking all of our luggage along cobblestone streets – to get to Sorrento. Totally worth it the time, sweat and bruises. We have been staying Sorrento since Thursday and we couldn’t have asked for a better landing pad. It was so easy to jump on a train, boat or bus to every other stop on our list for the area.This seaport town is super lively with beautiful views, friendly locals, walkable streets, tons of restaurants, and more gelato shops than there are Starbucks in NYC. So. Much. Gelato.

Arrival day gave us the afternoon and evening to wander around Sorrento and settle in. Some much needed downtime. And gelato.

Day two we took the ferry to Capri, a posh little island off the coast. Lots of limoncello was consumed. We also walked along a path built by the ancient Greeks!! The views were incredible, and so was the gelato.

Day three brought us to Naples. What can I say about Napoli? This ancient city gave me life!! I promise to write a nice long post about it and everything we were blessed enough to see. BIG shout to to my uncle, Steve Henry, for making the most amazing day happen! We visited churches, Roman baths, funerary chapels, saw The Veiled Christ (ohmygosh!!), ate the best pizza, spent the afternoon walking the ruins of Pompeii, and did it all while learning so very much from our own docent/critic/story teller, Diana Gianquitto. The day was perfect. And also, we had gelato after dinner.

After such a crazy day three, we took day four to relax. We hopped on the bus over the mountains to the town of Positano on the Amalfi coast. It’s an upscale beach town with narrow winding pedestrian streets, tons of shops, tons of boats, houses and buildings built into the cliff sides, and really good gelato.

Also, tonight, there was a football match between Napoli and Juventus. Napoli won and the whole town of Sorrento has been going nuts in celebration! And by that I mean riding around on their scooters and honking their horns. It is wholesome and joyous and total perfection.

This is our last night in the town of Sorrento and I’m actually really sad to leave. We couldn’t have asked for a better first leg of our mother-daughter journey. But we’ve got to pack up and be on our way, because tomorrow WE ROME.

Spring Break 2018: Part 3, Sedona, AZ

The third leg of spring break meant some much needed R&R for me and Ben in Sedona, AZ.

Sedona is just one gorgeous red rock and limestone formation after another. Maybe it’s the vortexes and energy of the area, but I just feel so at home here. I like to think that every creature that calls the desert home must be so very strong. It takes a lot to live in the desert and actually thrive in it. That’s part of why I love it so much.

We hiked Brin’s Mesa to Soldier’s Pass on a perfect day, just stretching our legs after Havasu. Had a soak in the hot tub. Drank too many margaritas at Elote. It was my definition of relaxation.

 Sedona is one of my favorite places EVER. I completely plan on retiring here as soon as financially possible.

Spring Break 2018: Part 2, Havasu Falls

The second leg of spring break took Ben and me on an epic hiking adventure to Havasu Falls.

This is seriously a bucket list kind of thing to do. The hike is ten miles into the Hualapai Canyon with a 2,000 foot drop in elevation. BTW, the challenge is not getting in, it’s obviously getting out. I love hiking, it’s one of the activities that makes me feel like my best self, so I was really excited for the physical challenge. Also, this was a rehab milestone for me. I had pretty serious surgery on my ankle last summer and was completely off my feet, non weight baring, for three months and then in physical therapy for months afterwards. I was only about a month and a half out of PT when we did this trip! It was a huge accomplishment for me and I am so proud of myself!

Hualapai Canyon leads to the village of Supai, belonging to the Havasupai Tribe. It is a gorgeous part of the country where you have to be dedicated to the land as any resources not coming from it must be brought down the canyon by mule train.

Once you get past the village, you’re onto the waterfalls. The falls here are an amazing clear blue. They get their color from the reflective limestone at the bottom of the creek beds. It is mesmerizing to say the least. The first falls you past are Little Havasu Falls, then Havasu Falls, then on to Mooney followed by Beaver. We only had one night in the canyon, so we didn’t make it to Beaver Falls. That extra hike will have to wait for next time, and hopefully we’ll make it all the way to the Colorado river. 

The hike down to Mooney Falls is totally precarious. I told Ben I was going to write a book about it titled How to Die a Horrible Death. I was miraculously less scared than he was as I had just recently had a snack and was grateful to not face my demise on an empty stomach. The ladder and chain system is slippery and old and definitely not for the faint of heart. It was totally worth facing the fear. What a payoff!

The campgrounds don’t have designated sites, so it’s catch as catch can with finding a good spot, and it can get very crowded. We picked a nice spot closer to Mooney Falls next to the creek. Full disclosure, I only camp if I can’t get back to indoor plumbing and a bed after a long hike. I don’t complain or anything, I just scream if I find any kind of bug in the tent. Ben works hard to treat me like a queen when we camp in order to get me to continue camping with him. I’m lucky.

We spent our morning relaxing by Havasu Falls and making new friends. The water was even warm enough to get into and wade or swim. And if you get there early enough you can beat the crowds and have a peaceful time before everyone starts their days of water play.

The hike out took about five hours, but we took our time enjoying the desert landscape of the canyon. The hike really was my favorite part. And when we finished I felt SO GOOD!!! #startedfromthebottomnowwehere #nothingcanstopmeimallthewayup. This was a great adventure!

Spring Break 2018: Part 1, Grand Canyon

Spring break in Arizona….I need to split this post up. Here is part one.

Ben and I accidentally left for spring break a day early!!! Silly us, thinking we had an extra day. So the plan was to drive from Monterey, CA to Seligman, AZ and stay a night along historic Route 66, get up super early, make the drive to the Havasupai trailhead, hike down the canyon, camp, hike up, make our way to Sedona for some R&R. So what do we do with the extra day? Stay home? Absolutely not. We got in the truck and decided we’d figure it out along the way. Lucky for us, we got to stay in Seligman for an extra night, taste some local flavor, chat with kind people, and spend the next day walking the South rim of the Grand Canyon to warm up for the next day’s hike.

I had never been to the South rim of the Grand Canyon, only the North rim (which I prefer). Either way, if you every have the opportunity to get to the bottom and visit Phantom Ranch, please do so, it’ll change your life. Evenso, the views from the South rim are absolutely spectacular. Also, there is a lot of geological information to learn as you walk the rim trail. So we had a nice leisurely afternoon just enjoying the views and each other’s company in one of our favorite places.

 

Seattle for the Win-ter

At the end of February I got to join my bestie, Kara, on a trip to Seattle. I had never been to Seattle, so I was excited to try someplace new. I had my days to myself and no car, so I did a ton of walking. We stayed at the Motif Seattle which is in a very nice location for shopping and Pike Place Market and the Seattle Art Museum. It was a cold visit, so I was grateful for the physical activity to warm me up while I was out and about.

Day one took my to the Capitol Hill neighborhood for some coffee and shopping. My favorite shop in the neighborhood was Glasswing. Very cool and easy fashion, interesting jewelry and succulent plants all over the place. I spent a solid hour in the little shop. And of course, when in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, I had to stop by the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Honestly, I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but I went here three times, it was that good.

Day two took me sightseeing around town to classic Seattle attractions. I visited the Olympic Sculpture Park, which has pieces by artists like Richard Serra and Alexander Calder. It was an amazing place to wander.

Quite possibly my favorite attraction in Seattle was the Chihuly Garden and Glass. It was GORGEOUS. I have seen a lot of Chihuly, having lived in Saint Louis and Las Vegas, but this was the best Chihuly exhibit I have ever seen. There was so much, and it was so colorful and beautiful and amazing.

The Museum of Pop Culture was also a good time. Totally awesome architecture leading to room after room of pop culture, from movies to music to tv. There was an amazing exhibit of photos of David Bowie and an extensive Jim Henson retrospective exhibit when I visited. Worked for me, I can watch Labyrinth all day long.

Day three was a visit to the Pike Place Market with my girl PJ who moved to Seattle a few years ago. Best part of it was catching up with an old friend. I did see them throw the fish though.

THE BEST thing I did in Seattle was to visit the Seattle Art Museum with Kara on our last morning in the city. They had an incredible exhibition titled Figuring History, featuring artists Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall and Michalene Thomas. It was three different perspectives about the Black experience in America and how we tell our own history. Truly inspiring and honest. If you ever get the chance to see this exhibit as it travels DO NOT MISS IT.

And for a great art experience that’s free, head to the Frye Art Museum. They have a salon room that is totally peaceful if you catch it at the right time. You can just sit and stare at paintings for hours.

Lastly, when in Seattle, please visit Salt & Straw and eat lots and lots of ice cream. It will make your life better.

Kicking the Year off in San Francisco

Sometimes the trip you need to start off the year is a quick one to visit with friends that don't live too far away. After a much needed break from travel after the holiday season, February took me and my guy just a couple hours north to San Francisco. It was an easy time with friends, a day boat trip out to the Farallon Islands and a morning walking around Sutro Baths. Couldn't have been a more pleasant way to get the year started after a long stint of not sleeping in my own bed.

The Farallons are an island group about 26 miles off the coast of San Francisco. The island is affectionately known as the "Sharks Teeth" because in the fall you find a long concentration of great white sharks. Being that we were there in the late winter we caught a couple of humpback whales and plenty of birds. There are no permanent residents on the Farallons as they are protected as a nature and bird preserve. A few scientists rotate in and out to study the wildlife on the island. A lonely life.

Sutro Baths was a swimming pool complex built in 1896 in the Land's End area of San Francisco. You can now explore around these ocean fed pools by foot, but I doubt it'd be ideal to swim in them. Adjacent to the baths is a system of paths that connects to Land's End. The paths are lined with Pacific cypress trees and when the light shines through them just right it's pure magic.